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DirtonDirt.com exclusive

Quick Time: Reviewing the season's top clashes

August 15, 2012, 11:57 am
By Todd Turner
DirtonDirt.com managing editor

Take a quick lap around the proverbial dirt track with managing editor Todd Turner for a roundup of Dirt Late Model racing through the latest weekend of action along with some other quirks of racing (along with occasional ax-grinding). Quick Time, one of the newest features of our website, will appear every Wednesday at DirtonDirt.com:

Frontstretch: Drivers of the week

National: Don O’Neal made a daring — or some might say overaggressive — pass of Jimmy Owens on lap 85 at Florence Speedway in Union, Ky., to capture Aug. 11’s 30th annual Sunoco Race Fuels North-South 100, his Lucas Oil Series-leading 11th victory of the season.

Regional: Dustin Strand of Grand Forks, N.D., a former WISSOTA modified champion, notched his first two victories on the Northern LateModel Racing Association, winning Aug. 9 in Ada, Minn., and two nights later in Jamestown, N.D.

Weekly: Don Smith Jr. of Norfolk, Neb., swept a pair of Limited Late Model features at Wagner (S.D.) Speedway, giving him three in a row and six on the season.

Crate: Tony Gray of Coker, Ala., swept a pair of NeSmith Chevrolet Weekly Series victories on Aug. 11 at Magnolia Motor Speedway in Columbus, Miss.

Turn 1: Top five clashes of 2012

With last week’s North-South 100 fresh in our memory, let’s review five of the most significant two-driver clashes this season:

Don O’Neal-Jimmy Owens
Event: Aug. 11 North-South 100 at Florence Speedway, Union, Ky.
The incident: When race-long leader Owens checked up behind lapped traffic on lap 85, O’Neal zipped to the inside entering turn three, edging ahead before contact between the two damaged the driver’s side door of Owens, who briefly got sideways.
The outcome: O’Neal won $50,000 and his first North-South 100; Owens picked up $10,000 for second.
O’Neal’s key quote: "It’s just one of them deals where he just let off at the wrong spot at the wrong time.”
Owens’ key quote: "I guess he seen his opportunity to bury it off in there and get by us, and he did.”

Dale McDowell-Jonathan Davenport
Event: Feb. 24 World of Outlaws at Volusia Speedway Park, Barberville, Fla.
The incident: In a Florida Speedweeks run-in reminiscent of a clash between the drivers a few months earlier at Cherokee Speedway that likely cost McDowell a victory, McDowell’s car turned left into Davenport down the frontstretch in a heat race.
The outcome: Davenport’s car clipped the inside wall entering turn one, he spun and was creamed by an onrushing car and towed off by two wreckers. McDowell won the heat.
McDowell’s key quote: “He hit me in the left-front and knocked me into the wall. We bounced back and forth and I didn’t let out. If I’d let out I would’ve wrecked. I stayed in the fuel and we got tied together and I went down the racetrack a little bit.”
Davenport’s key quote: "I guess it was just a little payback and he just turned left and run me into the inside wall and really messed up our stuff.”

Dennis Erb Jr.-Jason Feger
Event: June 22 UMP DIRTcar Summernationals at Tri-City Speedway, Pontoon Beach, Ill.
The incident: While racing toward the top five on the 15th lap of the feature, Feger tried to go around Erb down the backstretch when they made heavy contact.
The outcome: Feger’s car was too damaged to continue, but he tried to inflict damage on Erb’s car by retaliating during the caution period; Erb finished fifth.
Feger’s key quote: “He took money out of my pocket, and I was gonna do everything I could to take money out of his pocket and not let him finish either.”
Erb’s key quote: “All I know is I was driving out there and he tried to put a car between me and the wall. He needs to slow down a little bit.”

Rick Eckert-Mike Marlar
Event: Feb. 18 World of Outlaws at Bubba Raceway Park in Ocala, Fla.
The incident: Trying to regain the lead on the final lap of the $12,000-to-win race, Marlar went outside Eckert entering turn three but ran out of room and got into the guardrail.
The outcome: Eckert won while Marlar limped across the line in 18th.
Eckert’s key quote: “I know they’re all mad, and I’d be mad too. But I surely didn’t try that. I didn’t try to crash the guy.”
Marlar’s key quote: “I’m not gonna say he wrecked me or, ‘He did this,’ or, ‘He did that.’ I definitely knew the chances and I took them. Our team’s strong and we got good equipment, so I just went for it — and unfortunately, I got bit.”

Darrell Lanigan-Clint Smith
Event: Aug. 6 World of Outlaws at Independence (Iowa) Motor Speedway
The incident: While battling for the lead in the final laps, Smith rolls outside Eckert on the outside and inches ahead. But Lanigan’s car slips in turn two, and the contact costs Smith momentum he can’t regain
The outcome: Lanigan won another in what would become a record-setting six-race win streak while Smith settled for second behind a driver who'd helped improve his car in recent weeks.
Lanigan’s key quote: "I had the bottom groove and I went in there and got loose a little bit and got into him, but nothing intentionally. We were just racing hard.”

Smith’s key quote: "I think he went in there hot and knocked me up out of the way to get the lead back. He knocked me up so hard it put me in the loose stuff and he got back by me.”

Turn 2: Tweet of the week

From a regular DirtonDirt.com contributing photographer and writer:

@MichaelRMoats: I think it's funny how dirt late model fans dog NASCAR drivers, but will flock around them when they show up at a dirt track to race.

Backstretch: No repeat winners

Kyle Peterlin of Hibbing, Minn., won Aug. 10’s feature at Amsoil Speedway in Superior, Wis., making him the 11th different winner in 11 Late Model features this season. Have any other tracks gone this season without a repeat Late Model winner? Or does anyone know of a longer streak without a repeat winner during any season? Send us an email and we’ll see if we can come up with an interesting list.

Turn 3: Remembering Buck

We hope fans unfamiliar with Buck Simmons, the Hall of Fame racer who died Sunday, have learned enough about him from our coverage about him to appreciate his place among Dirt Late Model racing’s greats. Long-time Georgia auto racing writer Rick Minter was around for many of the Baldwin, Ga., driver’s exploits, and he writes about seeing among the last victories of his career. It’s a great column.

Turn 4: Turn back the clock

Five items from this week in Dirt Late Model history:

Aug. 20, 1981: Buck Simmons won at Santa Fe Speedway in Hinsdale, Ill., for one of 11 victories in his championship season on the National Dirt Racing Association.

Aug. 17, 1986: Freddy Smith of Kings Mountain, N.C., won at Lincoln Park Speedway in Putnamville, Ind., for his lone career victory on the USAC Late Model circuit.

Aug. 17, 1996: John Gill of Mitchell, Ind., won his second Jackson 100 at Brownstown (Ind.) Speedway, staying in control despite Billy Moyer’s tail-to-second run in the caution-free event. "I ain't gonna say 'I'm glad he started on the tail,’ ” Gill said, "but you know, that's just the way it is.”

Aug. 21, 2000: Ronald "Speedy" Hays, a popular car owner who fielded cars at Hagerstown (Md.) Speedway and other regional tracks, died at age 59. Among those driving Hays' popular red No. 44 were Hagerstown favorites Denny Bonebrake and Gary Stuhler, who drove for Hays for nine years ending in 1994.

Aug. 21, 2004: Dale McDowell of Chickamauga, Ga., led every lap of the unsanctioned Topless 100 at Batesville (Ark.) Speedway for a $43,000 victory, but he had to fight off a few challengers, including runner-up Scott Bloomquist. "There’s nothing easy in racing,” McDowell said, "and this wasn’t either.”

Checkered flag: Five fearless Topless predictions

• A previous winner will make another visit to victory lane.

• Victory Circle Chassis will has as many starters as any chassis builder.

• A Lucas Oil regular outside the top five in points will get a top-five finish.

• A single home-state driver will crack the top 10.

• Even with temperatures in the 80s, someone will think it’s too hot in Batesville.

(Last week: One out of five predictions correct)

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